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AHI Forum Examines Pogrom Against Christians in Middle East; Struggle of Religious Minorities in Turkey
February 14, 2014—No. 9 (202) 785-8430

AHI Forum Examines Pogrom Against Christians in Middle East; Struggle of Religious Minorities in Turkey

WASHINGTON, DC—The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) hosted a noon forum titled, “Pogrom Against Christians Sweeps Middle East: What is the State of Religious Minorities in Turkey?” featuring Doug Bandow, senior fellow, Cato Institute, February 3, 2014, at AHI’s Hellenic House.  

“The topic we are examining today unfortunately does not get much play in the American mainstream media,” AHI President Nick Larigakis said.  “With regard to Turkey, we are all aware of the plight of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, however, a broad spectrum of religious minorities in Turkey, including some sects of Islam, also struggle there. We appreciate Doug Bandow’s research and work in this field and for his time to provide us with his thoughts and expertise on the topic today.”   

Bandow’s presentation provided background about the continued persecution facing Christian minorities living in the Middle East prior to drawing comparisons with the current treatment of minorities in Turkey and areas where Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s government needs to improve. According to Bandow, Turkish persecution reaches beyond their Christian citizens and continues to be increasingly anti-Semitic as well.  If Turkey wants a bigger role on the international stage, they need to allow people to exert their religious rights, Bandow asserted.

Bandow added that today, persecution around the world can technically fall into two categories: secular extremism (such as that in a communist regime) or a state or group which uses religion to suppress any other religious groups (such as Islamic extremism). For the better part of its modern history, Turkey always had adapted Kemalist secularism. Bandow pointed out that even if its leadership decides to take the country in a more Islamist direction, it does not mean that the religious minorities within the country need to be suppressed.

Although religious liberty does tend to get “short-shifted” in Washington, Bandow reminded attendees that “this is a matter of human rights...of what a decent society is.”

Following Bandow’s presentation, President Larigakis offered closing remarks, and he moderated a Q&A session with the audience.

  • To view a video of Bandow’s presentation, please click here.

Doug Bandow, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. 

The American Hellenic Institute is an independent non-profit Greek American public policy center and think tank that works to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus, and within the Greek American community.


For additional information, please contact Georgea Polizos at (202) 785-8430 or at For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our website at